Brandon Matera is a chance to play in Townsville this weekend
CAPPED rotations in this weekend's round of NAB Cup matches will stop Gold Coast from bringing some of its injured youngsters back into the action, assistant coach Andy Lovell says.
The Suns have been relatively unscathed for most of the pre-season, but Brandon Matera (foot) and Dion Prestia (hamstring) have resumed full training and are available.
The pair missed last week's matches against Hawthorn and the Brisbane Lions, but with rotations to be capped at 80 per match this weekend, Lovell said the NAB Cup was no longer the vehicle to ease players back.
That included Saturday's meeting with North Melbourne in Townsville, where the temperature is predicted to reach 31 degrees.
"What you need to be mindful of is picking a team that can play big minutes," Lovell said.
"You have to be careful you don't over-expose players who are coming back from injuries and haven't done a high percentage of the pre-season. We're really mindful of that.
"Ultimately we want to win, but at the same time, not at a cost that may potentially injure your players."
He hinted that one of the two players would gain selection, and with Prestia visiting a Gold Coast junior club on Thursday while most of his teammates head to Townsville, expectations are that it will be Matera.
Lovell said the Suns were hoping North Queensland would again prove a lucky charm for the Suns.
They have played two premiership matches in Cairns for two victories, and although more than 300km further south, expected great support in Townsville, where they are holding a two-day community camp.
"We've obviously had some success up there," he said.
"We've got a really strong following and supporter base. For us to get to that regional area and integrate is really important because they give a lot back to us. For our players to go up and experience what our supporter base is like in the northern end is really important."
Michael Whiting covers Gold Coast news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting